Just read: ‘Building Cool Things’ by Scott H. Young

I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who are trying to start something completely from scratch. Sometimes they’re tempted by the project because they want the income; sometimes they’re tempted by the project because they want to quit their job; sometimes they’re tempted by the project because they want to create a future for themselves.

Blogger Scott H. Young gives us an interesting and inspiring direction for building something. (Yes, he’s speaking to a broader audience than entrepreneurs, but that’s where I’m intersecting with the article so that’s what I’m focusing on). To summarize Young, if you want enjoy something and be successful at it, you need to build something interesting.

What a great idea! Read more about building cool things at Young’s blog.

There are SO many areas in the life of an entrepreneur that this applies to. And if we think of other successful entrepreneurs who have gone before, the blog post is true: Only those who have done something quite interesting are the ones who have been successful.

Where does your blog fit into your sales funnel?

As you put together your sales funnel, one of the decisions you’ll make is the content channels that you’ll use at each stage. So where do you put your blog?

Some business owners use their blog only at one stage, others use their blog to do the work across several stages. It depends on what you want to accomplish and what you’re trying to sell.

BLOGS THAT PLAY A ROLE IN A SINGLE STAGE OF THE SALES FUNNEL
If you use your blog only at the Audience stage, search engine optimization is going to be one of the most important considerations for you: You want people to find you in search engines quickly and easily. That means you’ll need to identify keywords and create quality content around those keywords while also working to increase your blog’s positioning in search engine results.

If you use your blog only at the Lead stage, your biggest consideration will be two-fold: First, identify what people are thinking when they get to your blog and then communicate that. Second, move them toward contacting you as a trigger to become Prospects.

If you use your blog only at the Prospect stage, selling is your primary aim and each blog will need to act almost as its own mini sales-page.

If you use your blog only at the Customer stage, you’ll probably want some sort of sign-in that Customers must use to access the information, and you’ll want your blog’s content to be focused on adding value to an existing purchase.

BLOGS THAT PLAY A ROLE ACROSS SEVERAL STAGES OF THE SALES FUNNEL
Another common way to use blogs is across several stages of our sales funnel. My blog, for example, is written in this way: It is written with Leads and Prospects in mind. Audience members arrive here from a variety of other channels and they slowly move through my sales funnel using the blog (and other channels).

There are risks and rewards to a blog dedicated to a single stage and to a blog that works across multiple stages. Single-stage blogs are very focused and every blog post has a similar call to action. Multi-stage blogs have a broader range of subject matter and can have multiple calls to action. Single-stage blogs are used with laser-focus to strategically move a contact through one stage of the funnel. Multi-stage blogs are more like “positioning” documents that use quantity as much as quality to promote the blogger.

Although this is not always the case, single-stage blogs tend to work well for products while multi-stage blogs tend to work well for services.

If you have a blog, where is it being used in your sales funnel? Is it working in just one stage or across several? And once you know that, how does that influence the messages you write?

Sales funnel strategy and the Ansoff Growth Matrix

The Ansoff Growth Matrix (sometimes called the “Product-Market Matrix”) is a tool that businesses can use to figure out how to position and marketing new and existing products in new and existing markets.

For example, if you have an existing product but you want to enter a new market with it, you’ll need to adopt the strategy of market development. Or, if you want to introduce a new product into an existing market, you’ll need to adopt the strategy of product development.

That’s good in theory, but what does it actually mean for your business?

Each of these strategies calls for a change in the sales funnel. Here’s how each strategy impacts your sales funnel:

Existing market/Existing product
According to the Ansoff Growth Matrix, the best strategy a business should use is a market penetration strategy.
Here’s what it means for your sales funnel:

  • Since this strategy is all about increasing marketshare, you should find ways to increase the number of contacts in your Audience stage. By doing that, you’ll naturally increase the number of contacts at every stage in your sales funnel (because the ratios between each stage remain the same).
  • Improve your sales funnel even further by attempting to reduce the number of people who “fall out of your sales funnel”. For example, if you have Prospects who don’t buy because there’s an objection you can’t overcome, focus in on making changes to your business, your messaging, and even your product to overcome those objections.

Success with a marketing penetration strategy is all about increasing the number of leads in your existing sales funnel.

New market/Existing product
According to the Ansoff Growth Matrix, the best strategy a business should use in this situation is a market development strategy.

Here’s what it means for your sales funnel:

  • Identify the new market you want to enter and brainstorm the needs and problems of that new market.
  • List the features and benefits of your existing product or service and brainstorm to discover how it can solve the problems or fulfill the needs of the market.
  • You may have to set up an entirely new sales funnel to run parallel to your existing one. Although you might be able to share some of the infrastructure with your existing market, the messages you’ll use at each stage of the sales funnel will likely be fairly different.

Success with a market development strategy is all about creating a new funnel with marketing and sales messages that connect with your new market.

Existing market/New product
According to the Ansoff Growth Matrix, the best strategy a business should use is a product development strategy.
Here’s what it means for your sales funnel:

  • Your sales funnel isn’t just a map for selling to people. It’s also a listening device! Use the engagement you have with contacts at each stage of your sales funnel to find out what problems you can solve.
  • Whatever you do decide to do, there should be some synergies between your current products and your new products.
    As you develop a new product, make sure you always go back to the contacts in your sales funnel to see what they think. Consider using some of your existing Leads and Prospects and Customers to beta test early versions of your products or services.

Success with a product development strategy is all about listening to your existing sales funnel contacts.

New market/New product
According to the Ansoff Growth Matrix, the best strategy a business should use is a diversification strategy.

Here’s what it means for your sales funnel:

  • You’ll need an entirely new sales funnel so make sure you do as much research as you can before committing to this endeavor.
  • Start small with a very basic sales funnel. Treat this initial effort as a beta test and see what response is like. Are people responding? If so, you can always scale your sales funnel up.
  • Seriously consider building synergies with existing markets and existing products. If you offer something completely different to a completely different crowd, you may struggle if you’re trying to break into unfamiliar territory. And, if you already have an existing product that is sold to an existing market, the amount of effort needed for a new product to a new market could cost you in time and money.
  • In many ways, this approach is just like starting a new business. So treat it as such and consider setting aside members of your team to focus exclusively on this effort.
  • Don’t try to treat contacts in this sales funnel the same way you would treat contacts in your existing sales funnels. It’s tempting to do that to save time but it is a quick way to sink this project.

Success with a diversification strategy is all about starting over, starting small, and scaling up sensibly.